How Cooking Helps Preschoolers Learn

‘Happiness is a kitchen full of family.’

Yes, even if you have preschoolers in tow. Be it repeatedly pummeling dough and getting their hands messy or mashing potatoes and spreading the gooey stuff all over the kitchen counter, young kids love lending a hand in the kitchen (speaking from personal experience). Leave alone kid games; putting together a simple recipe in the kitchen can be as much fun, if not more. And why not, especially when it’s a win-win situation all along (apart from the mess involved)? Here’s how.

The basics of math: Be it counting the cookies on the baking tray fresh out of the oven or measuring the volume of water to be added to the spaghetti or even noting the time from the clock for a particular dish in the oven, helping out in the kitchen will aid in kids brushing up the fundamentals of math.

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Cookies” by mccartyv is licensed under CC by 2.0

Helps build fine motor skills: Before entering the kitchen, the rule is to scrub your hands clean. Right from turning on the tap to applying soap to scrubbing, to thoroughly rinsing and drying, kids need to be encouraged to make this a habit. Poking holes in a pie crust before putting it in the oven to bake, correctly holding a blunt butter knife and spreading mayonnaise over a slice of bread; all these small activities do their bit in honing a preschooler’s fine motor skills.

Promotes social skills & teamwork: Kids learn how to be patient since cooking is a step-by-step process. They also need to be able to listen as well as talk to others in order for the dish to turn out to be a success. Try chalking out a role for each member of the family. For instance, the kids can knead the dough, while moms prepare the oven for baking and dads get to prepare the cheesy dip. This way, the entire family works as a communicating team.

Open to experimentation & developing new tastes: Needless to say, kids will be thrilled at the prospect of eating something they themselves have had a hand in preparing (even if it’s the vegetables they generally turn up their noses at). Does your little one detest green salads of all kinds? Try throwing together a simple green pasta salad, entrusting the responsibility of mixing together all the contents in the large bowl to your kid. A statement or two to let him/her know the mixing together part is ‘the most important step in the recipe’ will be all that’s required to encourage your child to (at least) try out the salad, which otherwise wouldn’t have been the case.

“Excuse the mess, our family is making memories”: Definitely! Reason enough to have a go at it in the kitchen together every now and then. The laughs you’ll share together as a family while mashing potatoes with a fork, stirring ingredients (half in and half out of the bowl) or simply spreading toppings while assembling a pizza will be more than worth it. And all of you will remember it for a lifetime.

Don’t know where to begin? Take your pick from this list of fun recipes for kids which you can make together in the kitchen. The bottomline? Have fun!

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